Iconic, adventurous, enthralling: the United States of America is no stranger to being on many traveller’s bucket lists. Looking to tour America? Here we round up some unforgettable places to be
For some of the East Coast’s finest seafood, catch the ferry to this historical American town that’s all pretty beaches, lively surf and laid-back beachy vibes. This island is one of New England’s ace cards – and despite its popularity, there’s always a solitary stretch of sand to lounge on. Days can be spent exploring its farther reaches on a two-wheeled tour or pootling around the galleries, cafes and independent boutiques that line its well-heeled streets; whilst at night, delve into some super-fresh lobster at one of the waterfront restaurants, watching boats bob in the harbour over a chilled rose or two.
Just a two-hour drive from Manhattan’s concrete jungle, lies the wild and green province of the Catskills – we’re talking hipster diners, characterful home rentals, intriguing American towns, farm-to-fork fixtures and outdoorsy escapades. Like in many US states, this is roadtripping country, and refreshingly, the driving is the opposite of that in New York: easy, smooth and leisurely. Looking to explore American forests? Hike across Giant Ledge Mountain with its cracking views, make a lunch pit-stop by a babbling brook, and wind down come evening with a craft beer at one of the area’s microbreweries.
Pitched between the edge of Napa and the Pacific Ocean, Sonoma is one of the country’s off-the-radar culinary corners with a world-class wine scene – adding yet another string to USA tourism’s bow. Criss-crossed by rich and fertile lands that fuel a clutch of wineries, it’s a fascinating escape for wine-lovers, where the sun’s hot and the sparkling wines are cool and crisp. Make your way to one of its vineyards for a long, lazy afternoon, where the region’s famed wines are paired with a faultless menu of local produce on a shady terrace – a fantastic way to discover this bijou county.
One for the music-lovers – this lively and eclectic American town is the beating heart of the US’s music scene, filled with a dynamite collection of live music venues, record labels and radio stations. From bar-hopping in haunts with new and up-coming talent to bourbon tasting and eating fried chicken in the presence of country music greats, Tennessee’s music city is an exciting adult’s playground.
Unfold any US state map, and you can’t ignore the immensity of Alaska – the largest of all the US states – adrift on its own. It’s a land of big sky country, for seeking solitude and for enthralling expeditions in to the wilderness. One of its biggest draws is wildlife encounters, from kayaking amongst killer whales to meetings with bears: don’t forget, this is a state where there’s roughly one bear for every five people, so spotting a grizzly is entirely possible. For the full Alaskan experience, explore this untouched frontier aboard a cruise during summer, and discover this thrilling US state amid the soft light of the midnight sun.
If you’re looking for USA tourism bragging rights, head to Brooklyn – New York’s coolest borough. This hipster hangout and all-American town plays host to a booming street art scene, garnering a creative crowd that’s been steadily transforming drab areas of the borough with bold graphics and impressive murals. For a real insider’s guide, book yourself on to a street art tour, led by a local artist. You can see bright young things at work, view colourful murals, and learn about various art styles and media.
Yosemite National Park
It may be one of the United States of America’s star attractions, but there’s still plenty of scope to explore this iconic wilderness away from the crowds. Head to the High Sierra in the Sierra Nevada mountain range – a land of wildflower meadows, American forests, dramatic peaks and gushing waterfalls, accessible only by foot and mule – for a long-distance hike. Swap travel tales and pour over a US state map besides a crackling fire, trace fantastical constellations, wild swim in tranquil lakes and fix on your boots during an unforgettable trek across the park’s solitary backcountry. Here, five camps have been created and run on a lottery system for reservations, making for a very envy-inducing American adventure.
New Orleans Mardi Gras
They say less is more… unless you’re heading to this epic party in southern Louisiana, where currents of hedonism swirl through the streets every year. Dubbed the greatest free show on earth and held on Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras is historically the last day of unabashed indulgence before Lent begins. Fuelled by raucous parades, live music trucks, and crowds of revellers in feathers and beads, this is one party you won’t want to miss as you tour America.
USA tourism just wouldn’t be the same without the Grand Canyon: it’s easy to fall head over heels for its drama and beauty. But here’s something you probably didn’t know about this fascinating chasm: deep in the off-grid Havasupai Indian Reservation, gushes a series of secluded bright blue-green waterfalls. So secluded you’ll have to trek 10 miles to reach them, or catch a first-come-first-served helicopter ride. Nothing will prepare you for the immensity, the staggering beauty, or the strangeness as you hurl yourself into the cool waters and prepare to set up camp amongst the oldest exposed rocks in the world.